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The AFL’s Mid-Season Draft: Eligibility, how it works and its main success stories

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AFL Mid-Season Draft

It’s a long and tiring season for many teams, so bringing in some much needed recruits through the AFL Mid-Season Draft is a must.

We’ve seen it work wonders in the past, with the likes of Richmond’s Marlion Pickett being picked up and thrust into the biggest match of the season as an introduction to the AFL.

In order to be eligible to collect some much needed youth into a team’s system through the Mid-Season Draft, teams have to clear a spot or decide against it and stick with the roster as currently assembled.

It is a huge decision for a club to partake in, as it is the only chance during the actual season to acquire a player. While there’s been talk of introducing a mid-season trade period, nothing has eventuated as of yet.

AFL Mid-Season Draft
Marlion Pickett gave the first AFL Mid-Season Draft a huge PR boost, debuting in the Tigers’ successful 2019 Grand Final against the Giants.

So what is the AFL Mid-Season Draft and how exactly does it work? We’ve got all the answers.

What is the AFL Mid-Season Draft?

The AFL Mid-Season Draft is a ‘rookie draft’ available for all clubs that have an available spot on their roster — a spot that can be covered by players previously de-listed, or those that went undrafted in the National Draft the year before.

Outside of the National Draft and the Trade Period, which are both at the end of season, it is really the only opportunity clubs have to add to their team and help bolster areas that may be effected by injury or poor form.

This concept was introduced in 2019 to limit these massive inconveniences, such as long-term injuries or premature retirements. There were examples where clubs were severely impacted, prior to it’s induction.

How does it work and which players are eligible?

Similarly to the post-season National Draft, the AFL Mid-Season Draft is determined by ladder position following the 11th round of the year; the team coming last picks up the first draft pick, second last has the second pick and so on.

Each club is able to make one selection in this draft, however clubs need to free up a roster spot first — through long-term injuries that must be nominated, premature retirements and players de-listed in the pre-season.

Through the AFL Mid-Season Draft, an average of 17 players are selected from a pool of over 300 AFL hopefuls.

These hopefuls are eligible because they are playing in state leagues around the country, such as the WAFL (Western Australia Football League), VFL (Victorian Football League) and the Coates Talent League, an underage pathway competition which projected No.1 pick in the National Draft at the end of the year, Harley Reid, plays in.

HERE is the full list of AFL Mid-Season Draft nominees.

When is the 2023 AFL Mid-Season Draft?

Wednesday May 31, 7:00pm AEST

The 2023 AFL Mid-Season Draft is going to be held on Wednesday May 31 from 7pm AEST with teams needing to have that available roster spot open the day before at the latest.

How to watch the Mid-Season Draft

The AFL Mid-Season Draft is not televised; it’s exclusively streamed live at the official AFL website and the AFL Live App.

Key Mid-Season Draft success stories

These mid-season pick ups are hit and miss, with many pickups unable to work their way into a club’s best 22 consistently. But others have gone on to forge an impressive start to their AFL careers.

It’s hard to narrow it down to a few players, so we’ve given the top five AFL Mid-Season Draft picks, since the concept was introduced back in 2019.

1. Marlion Pickett

Pickett was picked up towards the bottom of the pack in the inaugural Mid-Season Draft, going 13th to Richmond. But he’s played the most important role of any mid-year pick up since the introduction. He famously made his AFL debut in the 2019 Grand Final victory for Richmond over GWS, kicking a goal and collecting 22 disposals in the club’s 89-point win.

2. John Noble

Quickly approaching 100 games for Collingwood, Noble has become a weekly starter down back and has taken his game to a whole new level since Craig McRae was appointed head coach.

He’s become a consistent performer now and is looking to have a long career ahead of him.

3. Ash Johnson

Arguably the player with the most excitement to him on this list, Ash Johnson has become a notable high flyer across the league with what feels like weekly highlight reels.

Even though he was picked up in the AFL Mid-Season Draft in 2021, it took until round 18 of 2022 for Johnson to make his debut and hasn’t looked back playing a crucial role up forward for the flying Magpies.

AFL Mid-Season Draft
Ash Johnson, one of the AFL Mid-Season Draft success stories.

4. Jai Newcombe

Newcombe is closing in on the 50 game mark still as a young thriving midfielder at the Hawks. In 2022, he started the season as a fringe first grader but by the end was named by the AFL coaches as the best young player in the competition.

5. Sam Durham

The young midfielder was picked up in the AFL Mid-Season Draft in 2021 and is quickly become a bright spark of Essendon’s side.

Durham has shown his worth at the club inking a new two-year deal to stay at the Bombers until the end of 2024.

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